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OVERTHROW OF SAFAVI DYNASTY 313
maintained a powerful army; so that a repetition of the
raid seemed unlikely.
The Disgrace of the Vizier and of Lutf AH Khan.—The
Persian Empire meanwhile, unconscious of its approaching
doom, continued to be distracted by Court plots and
intrigues. Fatteh Ali Khan, the Vizier, was accused of
treason and of instigating a body of Kurds to kill the
Shah in the night. Husayn, awakened from his sleep,
yielded to panic and gave orders for the Minister to be
executed. The wretched man's eyes were put out and
he was about to be tortured to make him reveal the
whereabouts of his treasure, when the Shah realized that
he had been duped. A council of nobles was summoned,
before whom the Vizier cleared himself fully ; but the
mischief was done. Lutf Ali Khan, his brother-in-law,
who had collected and trained an army for the invasion
of the Kandahar province, was dismissed and, as was usual
in such cases, the army dispersed. Consequently, at this
grave crisis in her history Persia found herself almost
defenceless through the fofiy of her feeble ruler.
Signs and Portents.—The year A.H. 1134 (1721) was
filled with disaster and foreboding. In Khorasan the
Abdali Afghans raided unchecked, and in the west the
Lesgians sacked Shamakha, the capital of Shirwan. More
disturbing even than raids and the sacking of cities were
the signs and portents that appeared. An earthquake
destroyed ill-starred Tabriz, while the usually clear atmos-
phere became dense, and the sun showed like a blood-red
orb. The superstitious Persians were panic-stricken,
and the astrologers added to their fears by prophesying
the similar destruction of Isfahan. Calamity, terror, the
cowardice of the Shah, the effeminacy of the Court, and
the dearth of generals and soldiers together lowered the
national moral to such a degree that probably no country
has ever been essentially weaker than Iran at this critical
period.
The Second Expedition of Mahmud^ A.H. 1135 (1722).
—The fear of invasion by Lutf Ali Khan had cowed the
Ghilzais ; but on hearing of his downfall they regained
their courage and decided to invade Persia a second time.